As we draw to the end of the burning season – in May! – it is time to think about getting the chimneys swept again.
According to a recent trade survey, there is an astonishing average of over thirty thousand chimney fires in the UK every year.
Quite apart from being terrifying and potentially immensely dangerous for the residents of the property concerned, even a minor chimney fire can do enormous structural damage to the chimney and any flue components within.
While the underlying cause of these fires is almost invariably linked to appliance misuse or inappropriate fuel, the vast majority could be prevented by regular sweeping. At the very least, getting the sweep in is the equivalent of an annual health check – he is likely to notice things which you might not - and while we at the New Forest Woodburning Centre are normally great proponents of self-sufficiency, there are other compelling reasons for employing a professional in this instance, regardless of how competent you are personally.
Insurance companies are loathe to pay out for claims for chimney fires unless the chimney has been swept by a professional chimney sweep. This is on top of the substantial local council bill for fire brigade attendance that you might be hit with if it becomes apparent that your chimney has not been maintained properly.
It is a small price to pay.
Ever since the disruptive-technology guerrilla Prometheus first famously catapulted human evolution into overdrive with the transformative miracle of fire, the challenge for our humble race has been to harness the flames to our needs while being respectful of the inherent dangers. According to a report commissioned by the National Fire Protection Association (US), which echoes our experience on this side of the pond, “the leading factor contributing to home heating fires (26%) was failure to clean…creosote…from chimneys” (the next biggest cause, at 14%, was having the heat source too close to combustibles - if you’re worried about this, give us a call!). You can avoid the build-up of creosote by burning appropriate fuel properly (in a nutshell, dry and hot!) in an appropriate flue. If your chimney is already tarred, you can render creosote more friable, and hence more sweepable, by burning chemical logs in your fireplace, and there’s nothing to stop you giving it an extra brush yourself (cleaning rods, brushes and chemical logs are all for sale in our showroom). A sweeping in the middle of the burning season is definitely to be recommended for wood burners, but whatever you do, make sure that you get your chimney professionally swept at least once a year.
And there’s no time like now to get the sweep in. Good sweeps are in high demand from September on, so make it a priority over the summer months. Call us at the New Forest Woodburning Centre for the names of recommended sweeps in the New Forest area, and stay safe.